Greetings, you’re listening to the Liam Photography Podcast, I’m your host Liam Douglas and this is Episode 245. In this episode I want to talk about how to keep yourself from burning out on photography when you shoot for a living.
Photography is fantastic as both a hobby and a profession, but like any “job”, when you get paid to do it can cause burn out. You spend so much of your time shooting for paying clients, meeting deadlines, running your photography business and all the things that go along with it. You have to worry about marketing, contracts, networking, attracting clients, etc and it can be daunting at times. Even the best of us can reach a point of burn out if all we do it shoot for clients and to pay the bills.
There are so many great ways to keep from burning out on photography and I will talk about some of them in this episode. I am one who is big on doing my own creative photography and many others have as well to keep themselves from burning out on something we originally got into because we loved it and it’s a great creative outlet for our more artistic side.
One of my favorite ways to stop from being burned out on photography is shooting a personal project. Back in 2015 as I drove around back roads in Georgia one weekend I came upon the town of Sparta, GA, which was nearly a Ghost town at the time. The town’s main street had at one time 39 storefronts, and in 2015 they were down to only 6 that were still in business. As I walked around town, I decided to start shooting everything I saw and my Forgotten Pieces of Georgia project was born.
I decided that day to start driving around the entire state of Georgia, shooting and documenting all of the abandoned small business buildings and factories I could find. It became quite a massive undertaking that I am still working on today. I lost a couple of years due to a really bad car accident and Georgia has a total of 159 counties to cover, of which I have shot around 110.
I love working on this project as I love history and old buildings, and it’s even branched out into a sister project doing the same photography in my childhood home state of Pennsylvania as well. I’ve also been honored to have the first part of my Georgia project turned into a book that is available at Barnes and Nobel, Amazon, or on my own online store. Unfortunately, it came out during the whole Covid thing, which killed my doing any personal appearances and book signings as well as radio interviews. I did get to interview by phone with the local Dade County newspaper in Dade County, GA, which was one of the counties included in the first book.
Creative Use of Lenses:
Another thing that I like to do is get creative with my camera and lenses. I have spent time out at local botanical gardens when I lived in Georgia and shot everything using nothing but my wide angle lens. I even captured portraits of the beautiful greek statues using that lens and I got some really interesting and unique shots. I don’t only find other purposes for my existing lenses, but I also like to buy creative lenses as well like the Lensbaby line, the Holga toy lens and the Funleader Cap lens as well. These lenses can really help you make artistic and creative images and I have a lot of fun using them, so it’s another item to consider.
Photographing other Hobbies:
Something that myself and other photographers like to do is to photograph other hobbies or activities that we already do. This could be your kids sports, like baseball, football, soccer, or basketball. When he was young, my uncle’s oldest son was into auto racing for kids. It’s very similar to NASCAR, but since they are really young kids, like 10 years old, they race heavily modified go-karts. It can be really exciting to photograph something like this as it is a joy to see kids that young so into racing on dirt tracks, similar to the kind of pre-NASCAR racing that adult drivers do.
A friend of mine and recent guest only this show Dan Bailey is really into long distance bicycle riding. He lives in Alaska, so he not only does a lot of the standard mountain bike style riding but he is also into fat bikes as well and making long distance rides in the middle of winter and he ALWAYS takes one of his many Fujifilm X Series cameras with him to document the rides as well as professional mountain bike racing.
In addition to computers and photography I am also a licensed HAM radio operator, so I love taking my camera to “Field Day” at the end of June each year when HAM radio clubs across the world go to places like local parks, camp out all weekend and try and contact as many other groups as they can around the world. It is a LOT of fun, but I know it’s not for everyone. I actually recently bought a funny t-shirt I found online that says, “It’s OK if you don’t like HAM radio, it’s kind of a smart people hobby anyway.” I also love to take my camera with me to HAM Fests, which are like a combination of a flea market for HAM radio. You can walk around, talk to other operators, buy and sell both new and used gear and even take your license exams.
Many photographers enjoy shooting macro photography as a way to prevent photography burn out. Some love to shoot flowers at local botanical gardens, other love to shoot action figures and make them look like scenes from actual movies. Other photographers like to shoot high detail focus stacked images of coins, or jewelry and other small objects. Of course there are photographers making money from this passion, but many others just do it to feed their creative needs. I don’t remember his name off-hand as it’s been some time since I read the article about him, but I even remember reading about a photographer who loves to use model cars and make miniature streets and then shoot the cars in front of real buildings to replicate older eras using perspective to make the cars look full size.
Travel and Landscape Photography:
Brent Bergherm, another friend and frequent guest on this show has a show of his own that is all about Travel and Outdoor photography. He loves to travel all over the world and shoot beautiful landscapes. He’s been to Central America, traveled up and down the West Coast of America shooting along the cliffs and beaches. He also loves to travel into the mountains in his home area of the Pacific Northwest and shoot as he’s out hiking and even sometimes camping as well. Back in December 2019, Brent made his first trip to Alaska, going to Unalaska, Alaska, which is the chief center of population in the Aleutian Islands. He spent an entire week up there with another photographer, shooting all of the wondrous sites in that area. Hearing about that trip made me a little jealous, I have to admit as Alaska and Hawaii are the only two states I haven’t been to yet.
Night Time/Milk Way Photography:
If you really want to trying something new to prevent burn out, you could try night time long exposure or Milky Way photography. I have done quite a bit of night time long exposure shooting, but have not had a chance to do Milky Way photography yet. I know I have seen some excellent astrophotography that has been shot in Arizona, and the nice thing is there is so much open desert areas so no worrying about light pollution from nearby cities. 17 of the last 18 years I lived in the greater Atlanta area and there is just way too much light pollution to get any kind of astrophotography.
Now that Tina and I live out in the country in North Carolina, hopefully I can make time to shoot some astro this coming summer.
So, these are just a handful of ideas for ways to keep your photography fresh and not suffer from burn out by only shooting for money all the time and dealing with client deadlines and demands.
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You can find my work @ https://www.liamphotography.net on and follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @liamphotoatl. If you like abandoned buildings and history, you can find my project @ http://www.forgottenpiecesofgeorgia.com. and http://www.forgottenpiecesofpennsylvania.com.
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